/ Money

Mark Carney: Let’s decide the future of money

Does cash hold a place in the future of money or are digital transactions now king? Our guest author Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, wants to know your thoughts.

Money is evolving. So is the way we pay for things, the financial services we use and how we keep the financial system safe.

Bank notes are in the process of moving from paper to polymer, and for many people payment by plastic card is the norm these days.

We’ve seen the rise of contactless payments and even the emergence of crypto-currencies. These changes have implications for consumers. They also matter a lot to us here at the Bank of England.

We print bank notes, we process payments, and we keep your money secure by ensuring that banks and the financial system as a whole are resilient.

Changing payments

Understanding how people use their money and how they feel about changing trends in money and digitisation in financial services more broadly is really important to us.

That’s why we set up Future Forum: the Bank’s first virtual event where we’re asking consumers to talk to us about anything concerning the future of money.

We want to hear what you think about cash, contactless payments, the service you get from banks and building societies, and much else besides.

Perhaps you’ve signed up to the Which? ‘Save Our Cashpoints’ campaign and want to tell the Bank why access to cash through these facilities is so important to you.

Or you might have signed the Which? Action on Scams campaign because you have concerns about the risks associated with bank transfers and new forms of cybercrime. You can share your experiences with others on the Future Forum.

Cash question

Future Forum isn’t about navigating to the end of the road for cash. Bank notes will remain an important form of payment for many years to come.

But new forms of payment are becoming ever more common. And, as we look to the future, we want to know what this could mean for you, whether you’re young or old or whether you live in a city or a rural area.

Our Future Forum will be here until January 2019 and some of those people who are most active on the platform will be invited to a roundtable event with our Governors.

Many of us will be taking part in live Q&A sessions on the platform over the coming weeks, so please register now so that you can take part in these conversations.

This is a guest post by Mark Carney. All views expressed are Mark’s own and not necessarily those also shared by Which?.

What do you think about the future of money? Do you think there’s still a place for cash – or do you pay for everything on plastic?


I like to keep a close eye on my finances, and write down any online transactions in a notebook for transfer to my accounts package on the p.c. For normal daily shopping I use cash, so I know exactly how much I have left, but a card for larger expenditures, like visits to the optician or the vet. I would hate to use a card for day to day shopping, as I would certainly not remember all transactions, and would lose track of my accounts.

J Peacock says:
16 February 2019

Some very small businesses do not find it financially sensible for them to offer cashback or to accept card payments under, say £5, so customers need cash for small purchases. It is also essential to have cash for Christmas boxes, etc..

LINK arrange a payment fee for cash transactions at ATMs that are not your own bank’s. Perhaps small traders could be encouraged to offer cash by a similar arrangement in areas where there are no convenient banks, supermarkets, post offices or ATMs.

Diane says:
16 February 2019

I don’t like the thought that you are/can be tracked when using card/app payments.
It seems that cash is going out of fashion purely for the convenience of banks, hence the reason the ATM’s are closing.
WE should have the choice of how we spend OUR money and NOT be dictated to about how.

D. Hedgley says:
16 February 2019

The idea of reducing everything to cards without cash is a worrying trend. Apart from the sheer nonsense of using a card on very small purchases, (jumble sales, postage stamps etc) the use of the card tells ‘Big Brother’ where you are or have been!
With the closure of branches you were forced into using ATMs more and more but with the removal of so many of these machines we are now being inconvenienced more and more.
Strikes me that this is all for the banks benefit and not the customer’s. We are being disregarded and almost treated as a necessary evil!
I speak as one who easily banks online but understands the benefits of cash.

Once the banks create their cashless society they’ll make us feel that they’re the ones paying our wages, salaries, pensions, etc., and they’ll all act together in charging us more and more for their services. Beware!

Peter says:
16 February 2019

I like to have cash handy for things like tips. Yes, you can sometimes add a tip on to the card total, but (a) this means you can’t reward an INDIVIDUAL for particularly good service and (b) I suspect some restaurants don’t pass all the tips on to the staff, if they’re just added on to the bill.

Kathleen S says:
17 February 2019

I agree with your comments about needing cash and I can add a few more myself where you HAVE to pay with cash. I use taxis a lot now if I have to go a distance, and ALL have to be paid in cash. Window cleaners, some shops still don’t have machines, door to door sales, the few milkmen who still deliver. And I’m sure there are more that I can’t think of just now.
I’m always short of change since our only bank closed (Lloyds, which was always busy). The only way I seem to be able to get change is the “Cash Back” system but the snag with this is you have to buy something first! There are two machines and a Post Office in my area, but disabled people using wheelchairs or mobility scooters can’t access the PO if they can’t walk at all. I, myself, use a mobility scooter and if there’s space outside the PO I can park up and walk the distance into it, but if there’s a long queue and cannot park, then I can’t access it either.

Marie says:
16 February 2019

This is just another way for big service providers and corporations to shunt their administration costs onto their customers. I do not want to be a banker, travel agent, insurance broker etc and I would prefer to keep people in jobs providing a service they have specialist knowedge of, rather than having to do it myself. It’s not as if they ever pass onto their customers the benefits of all the money they save by making us do their admin.

Tony Park says:
16 February 2019

I live in West Wales in a thriving town. ALL of the banks have closed and so have their cash machines. Lloyds was the last to close in Feb supposedly because of a lack of customers. In reality, the branch was always full and there were long queues.There is now one cash machine in the town and there are ALWAYS long queues to use it. Lloyds and Barclays do run a mobile bank twice per week but it is not a suitable alternative. The banks have closed to save money regardless of the views of their customers.Our small Post Office is finding it difficult to cope with the extra footfall.

One of the problems is that there is no coordination of banking provision so as soon one of the big banks announces a closure in a town the others all race for the exit so as to avoid being the last one standing and under an unwritten obligation to service the accounts of the customers of the other banks. Obviously, the managers of all the branches talk to each other and probably plan their withdrawal so that there is no opportunity to arrange reciprocal cover meanwhile saying they had no idea that Barclays/Lloyds/Natwest etc were going to close. It does make a mockery of the advertising slogans that go on about being “there for you”, “by your side” and “here to help”. And they wonder why we don’t trust them.

I’m not sure that this is the case with bank closures; for one, many don’t seem to have the traditional “manager” (although mine does, and very helpful too). For two, so many operate from some central location where, I suspect, all decisions are made without local consultation. Mine has a published direct phone number, which is also very useful. For three, I would have thought a branch or two closing in an area is the opportunity for the remainder to attract more customers from them and improve their own viability. Or, has the surge to internet banking made customers not worried when their branch closes? Use it or lose it, like your village shop. But I may be quite wrong…..

It just seems coincidental that in many cases when one goes they all go in quick succession. It would be interesting to know what the rate of churn of customers is. The days of perpetual loyalty to your bank have long gone. Customers switch to whoever will give them the cheapest overdraft or most generous loan or mortgage. It could be that the banks don’t actually want to hang on to all their customers and attract new ones in the face of tighter rules on overdraft charges as recommended by Which?. They are aware that everyone has to have a bank account somewhere so are not bothered how they capture them. They like university students because they perceive they have potential for higher balances and the sale of savings and investment products down the years but as for the less-advantaged members of the population they might be indifferent to whether they open an account or not.

Peter Moran says:
16 February 2019

I live close to Wellington, Somerset which is a major town in W Somerset supporting many local
Businesses but reduced from 4 banks down to one. Similarly with machines.

Brian Mulholland says:
16 February 2019

An interesting side issue – In rural areas of Northern Ireland it is becoming increasingly common for thieves to remove ATM machines and their cash contents using a JCB digger or similar. The banks then have a golden excuse not to replace the ATM.

ATMs are also operated by other than banks. An operator, quite rightly, may not want to provide a machine where it is subject to theft.

The Banks seem intent on eliminating all methods of payment from which they cannot take their cut, Cash is a convenient and immediate way of dealing with small transactions and it does not require exchange of details which might compromise the security of accounts. A car dealer recently declined to accept payment by debit card because he said he would have to pay a bank charge on the transaction. I had understood that there were no charges for use of a debit card so rang my bank help line who told me that there were no charges. However when I checked online I found that the car dealer was correct and that he would have to pay a significant transaction charge. This costs us all money in the end but the banks wish to hide this.

I don’t think this is true. I know that banks are encouraging internet banking and this allows anyone to make bank transfers for free.

Unless things have changed , processing charges for small businesses can vary greatly within the same bank, let alone between banks. Small business customers may be under the impression that they will be charged a lot for handling card payments because they haven’t had a chat with their account manager recently. Provided of course they can actually get hold of him/her, as with staff cutbacks I would expect they are dealing with around 2500 other business accounts.

I use cash in many areas of my life. The only access to cash in my hand is by drawing it directly from the bank across the counter or from a cash machine. If cash machines disappeared the only other way for me to get cash is over the counter at the bank, many of which are closing. On occasions when I do draw cash over the counter I have to suffer the third degree as to why I need it. It seems the banks want to exert full control of all cash. I wonder why that is.

Derek, have you not got any local shops that do cashback with debit card purchases?

Caroline says:
17 February 2019

I feel for the elderly and disabled here! I know that the majority of the population at this time would be competent with using digital payment options and cards etc, but that’s not enough, it’s bigger than being able to use technology. What about those still unable to understand technology, they are left having to rely on others to manage online transactions. What about those with poor dexterity and struggle using their hands due to arthritis or have hand deformity, they would struggle typing in the correct information, which could see them getting locked out of bank accounts or entering incorrect amounts when paying bills which they then have to fight to get back, this also applies when entering pins into pinpads, several incorrect pin attempts will mean they can’t pay for the shopping they needed, and contactless is only good for small transactions. Then there’s the issue of security, cash is far more secure for individuals than digital is for those with limited understanding of internet security, cash has to be directly removed from a person, whereas there are numerous ways that digital attacks can be made, especially where a person doesn’t understand how it works and how best to protect themselves. Whether that’s hacking social media to get information which may be useful for security questions relating to financial accounts or important dates which are commonly used for pin numbers, card scanners used to gain credit/debit card information for use later in producing replica cards or for online transactions, people using the same password for most things, email/txt/phone phishing scams to get information or plant viruses, there are many combinations of obtaining information which alone would be useless but when combined with other innocent information gathering tactics can prove very useful for criminals, which often gets sold and traded online. Digital finances can be safe if you know how to keep your information secure, not everyone knows how, which leaves them vulnerable to scammers so for them and for some disabled people cash is the best for a lot of things, and for some, cash is all they know and understand, removing or limiting access to cash only serves to isolate them more or forces them into using methods of paying which they don’t understand

Stuart Reid says:
17 February 2019

Becoming cashless means that the establishment will be able to track us and know exactly what we are buying, what day and what time. It also means that they could prevent us accessing our money if we fail to do what we are told. Lots of ways to look at this, but I believe that it will mean yet more freedom of choice being taken away.

Most of us can already be tracked by other means, including car registration numbers, cell phones and store loyalty cards.

Jacqueline Bell says:
17 February 2019

Dunbar RBS has closed. This is despite a greatly increasing population.The town also serves a number of villages with no banks or post office. We now only have 2 external ATMs on the High Street that are available outwith shop hours. Some weekends they have run out of money or one has been out of order.

Last time I was there, Dunbar also had ATM’s out by its ASDA superstore. I guess folk driving in from nearby villages wouldn’t mind going there, but I wouldn’t want to have to walk there from my home-from-home at the Rocks.

Helen says:
17 February 2019

I use a nearly organic veg stall open two days a week which will never have a card terminal, and it collects coins for the local food bank. Many charities, very small businesses and start-ups cannot do without cash. I want to be able to tip who I want, and I don’t want long statements with every little thing listed.
They tried to end cheques, just for the banks’ convenience.

Robert Jackson says:
17 February 2019

I’ve been pondering about this particular debate, as it has been raised before. Now this may seem that i’m joking, but having the accumulated experience of life up to now, as a ‘silver surfer’, I’m wondering if it’s not a deviously cunning plan by HMRC via ‘Government Advisors’, to eliminate permanently, Jo Public’s opportunity (and business to business’s), chances of saving a bit of money, by ever being able to get a job done or purchase an article via a ‘pound notes job; eh, wink wink, no wat i mean ‘Arry?!.

You could be right, Robert.

There is no doubt that the withdrawal of folding money would seriously damage the shadier parts of the economy and cause problems for various traders and dealers, including the narcotics peddlers and contraband baccy pushers.

I think the problem with all these “cunning plan” theories is they assume that the Government or its subsidiary bodies would be capable of carrying out these plans effectively and stealthily.

I dont always want to pay by my debit card so popping onto the cash machines is great for me, especially as some cafes DONT have the facillatly to take cards. LET PEOPLE MAKE THEIR OWN CHOICE TO USE THEM OR NOT..

What do you think should happen when only 10% of the population are still using coins and notes, Lorraine?

Personally, I can’t see the end of cash in the foreseeable future but the number of people using other forms of payment could accelerate. We might not need to worry too much about the people over 75 but the generation behind that might be the group most at risk of a change of payment system as the current younger generation become the dominant players.

I use cards for most purchases but when I go out for a meal with a group, someone usually pays by card and then they are reimbursed by the rest of the group and then we make contributions to the tip, all done in cash. I suppose we could all ask for separate bills but I cannot remember anyone ever suggesting this when I’ve been out for a meal with a group.

I’ve found that asking for separate bills is often necessary at meetings and conferences, if those dining are eligible for the reimbursement of the meal costs via business expenses and will need to all submit receipts with their expenses claims to their many different employers.

But even so, it is still quite common to collect cash and pay via single card transaction and then just take away multiple copies of a common receipt.

At overseas conferences, acting as “banker” and “payer” can then also be a nice way of acquiring more of the local currency.

But I do agree that social gatherings should be spared the tedium of separate bills & receipts.

Winnie says:
18 February 2019

Not all small businesses have the facility for a card payment. If you wish to put money in a collecting box you need cash. Some businesses will not accept a card payment if it is under £5. Market traders always want cash. ATMs are essential as bank branches are closing which makes it difficult/impossible for some people to obtain cash.

I really doubt whether we will in the foreseeable future have a cashless society. Cash is too useful. Its use may diminish gradually as alternative forms of payment become even more used.

ATM’s are not the only source of cash, and I’d like to see many more outlets where it can be obtained with a bit of imaginative thinking. We seem to be stuck on an ATM (or bank) being the only source now; not so. Many stores off cashback, and around 11500 post offices have cash withdrawal facilities.